WhatsApp OTP scam: What is it and how to stay safe

Scamsters on WhatsApp have been always devising new ways to dupe people and take over their messaging accounts. And one of the most fool-proof ways of scamming people is with the OTP. How do seamsters do this? And how can you stay safe? 

| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 00:12 IST
OTP scams are locking people out of WhatsApp and many people fall prey to this easily. 
OTP scams are locking people out of WhatsApp and many people fall prey to this easily.  (Pixabay)
OTP scams are locking people out of WhatsApp and many people fall prey to this easily. 
OTP scams are locking people out of WhatsApp and many people fall prey to this easily.  (Pixabay)

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services across the world. And since it is used by so many people, it is natural for hackers and scammers to target this. 

To be fair, most users make it easy it for hackers to break in because they are not careful. One of the easiest ways for scammers and hackers to take hold of our WhatsApp accounts is through the OTP. The fraudsters have been using the simple OTP to scam people. 

What is the OTP scam?

Whenever you set up WhatsApp all afresh or on a new smartphone, once you put in your registered phone number, WhatsApp sends you an OTP to your number. You need to type this in to be able to set WhatsApp up. 

You need to remember two things here - you need to put in your phone number to get that OTP from WhatsApp and WhatsApp is never going to send you an OTP unless prompted. 

Hackers and scammers are using this OTP feature to break in. They pretend to be friends or family and will get in touch with you on any other messaging platform - via SMS or Facebook Messenger and tell you that they have been logged out of their WhatsApp accounts and need your help to get in. 

Hackers then go on to say that since they are locked out of their accounts, they are unable to receive OTPs on their numbers. So, you shall be receiving an OTP on their behalf that you should share with them.

Also Read: 26% Indians have shared OTPs with others, 22% have shared bank details: Survey

Following this, you will get an OTP on your number and the hacker/scammer will ask you to share it with them. 

The very moment you do that, you will get logged out of your WhatsApp and you will see a message on the app that says that you have been logged out of this device and that your number is being used on another device for WhatsApp.

What basically has happened is that the hacker put in your number on WhatsApp on another device and that's why received the OTP. If you fell for it and shared the OTP with this individual pretending to be an acquaintance - you just gave away your WhatsApp account. 

The hackers can now use your WhatsApp account for unscrupulous activities and get you locked out for good.

What to do if this happens?

If you have fallen prey to these scammers what you need to do is to immediately reset your WhatsApp and log in again. You will have to feed in your registered number and then you will receive an OTP. 

Log in to WhatsApp on your device using this OTP. This will lock the hacker out of any other device they are using with your number. 

Also Read: Fraudsters are using an old trick to hijack users' WhatsApp accounts

How to avoid the OTP scam?

This is actually pretty simple. 

Remember that WhatsApp never sends an OPT unless prompted by you. So if you receive an OTP without having done anything - ignore it and do not share it with anyone. Not even closest friends and family, particularly if they are asking for it via text. 

If you receive such a text from a friend or family member - call them and check if they indeed need your help on this. 

You should Aldo activate two-factor authentication on WhatsApp to be extra safe. 

WhatsApp has a lot of your private chats and media and it is dangerous if hackers get access to this by any mean. Be careful. 

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First Published Date: 23 Nov, 11:08 IST